The collective hearts of our Jacksonville eye care community have been grieving recently, since losing a friend and colleague to suicide. He was a military veteran and experienced tremendous stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us at Florida Eye Specialists knew him or knew of him, including Dr. Ravi Patel. Through Florida Eye Cares, the charitable arm of Florida Eye Specialists, he will dedicate his upcoming IRONMAN competition to support K9s for Warriors and veterans in need.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Illness and Stress
Here in Jacksonville, our eye surgeons routinely treat Navy service members, veterans, and their families. Unfortunately, we are all too aware of the grim statistics around veteran mental health. Roughly twenty veterans die by suicide every day. These numbers may have risen during the pandemic, a time when so many have faced added stressors, anxiety, and isolation.
After losing a colleague to suicide, these statistics are no longer at arm’s length. We have all witnessed the devastating impacts of COVID on our patients, colleagues, friends, and family. This is why Florida Eye Cares and Dr. Patel are partnering with K9s for Warriors to raise awareness of the importance of mental health and self-care.
An IRONMAN Dedicated to a Fallen Veteran
Dr. Patel has been with Florida Eye Specialists since 2009 and is dedicated to both his patients and his eye care practice. He’s put that same commitment to competing in the ultimate test of willpower and endurance, the IRONMAN competition.
For Dr. Patel, his training has been a critical outlet during the COVID-19 pandemic and increased periods of mental stress. It also inspired him to begin raising awareness around mental health topics as he realized how many people are struggling.
“Training for the IRONMAN started as a personal bucket list goal for me. But it’s become much more than that,” said Dr. Patel. “It’s about raising awareness for our mental wellbeing, remembering someone who was a dear friend of mine, and encouraging people to take care of themselves physically and mentally.”
Proving the impossible to be possible is what the IRONMAN is all about. Dr. Patel knows firsthand how staying active improves both your physical and mental health. He encourages all of us to keep up physical activity to relieve stress, especially during difficult times.
K9s for Warriors & Veteran Mental Health
K9s for Warriors is an innovative program with a mission to end veteran suicide. Local to Jacksonville, it provides highly-trained service dogs to military veterans suffering from mental illness. Since it was established ten years ago, the program has helped restore the lives of veterans across the country.
Dr. Patel knows taking action now can help others who are currently in need. By supporting K9s for Warriors, we can help honor our friend’s memory, raise awareness, and support deserving veterans.
Support Dr. Ravi Patel & Fundraise for K9s for Warriors
Dr. Patel will compete in his first IRONMAN Race in Tempe, Arizona, on November 21. Friends and supporters can pledge a donation amount to his fundraiser for every mile he runs. Whether you donate ten dollars, one dollar, or even 10 cents per mile, Dr. Patel and our whole team at Florida Eye Specialists will appreciate your support. We’re relying on our community to reach our goal of raising $5,000.
“The idea that everyone is taking care of themselves both physically and mentally will motivate me to complete the IRONMAN,” said Dr. Patel. “It has become much more than crossing off a bucket list item, and I am grateful for the support from Florida Eye Cares to make it happen.”
About Florida Eye Specialists
Dr. Ravi Patel, M.D., is a board-certified ophthalmologist at Florida Eye Specialists. Florida Eye Specialists is one of the largest multi-specialty ophthalmology private practices in Northeast Florida, with offices in Fernandina Beach, Gate Parkway/295, Mandarin, Northside, Ponte Vedra Beach, Riverside, San Marco, Southpoint, and St. Augustine. Schedule an appointment at one of our nine locations.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.